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University of Luxembourg (Campus Belval)

Avenue de l'Universite

Esch-sur-Alzette

Luxembourg

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"What is Brexit? Two Perspectives on Britain's EU Referendum"

We proudly announce the next session of "Let's talk about History!” series of conferences, organized by the Institute for History of the University of Luxembourg. Two experts from England are going to approach the highly topical and explosive issue of “Brexit” from different points of view:

  • Dr. Mathias Häußler, Historian (University of Cambridge): "The bête noire of European integration? ‘Brexit’ in Historical Perspective"

  • Prof. Ben Rogaly, Human Geographer (University of Sussex): "Your place or mine? Oral histories of migration for work in contemporary Britain"

Time & Place: September 28, 6.30 pm, Campus Belval, Esch-sur-Alzette. You will find us at Maison du Savoir, Third floor, Room 3.520.

We look forward to an exciting evening full of lively discussion and hope to see many of you!




[TALK 1]

The bête noire of European integration? ‘Brexit’ in Historical Perspective, Dr. Mathias Haeussler

While the British vote to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016 came as a surprise to many, the so-called ‘Brexit’ in fact only marks the culmination of over sixty years in which the United Kingdom has continuously struggled to come to terms with the process of European integration. Why is it that Britain, a country with centuries-long political, economic, and cultural ties to the European continent, continues to hold such different attitudes towards the EU than most of its European partners? This talk takes a historical perspective to trace the evolution of Britain’s role in Europe from the immediate post-war years to the present day. Contrasting British attitudes with those of other EC founding members like Germany, it shows how the country’s unique historical role and different wartime experience meant that it simply lacked the powerful strategic and political rationales for European integration that existed amongst ‘the Six’. As a result, the European question never acquired a solid cross-party national consensus in post-war Britain, but instead became subject to manifold and often contradictory domestic pressures, particularly as the country adjusted to its post-imperial role amidst the political and economic turmoil of the 1970s. At the same time, however, the talk also warns against the prevalent image of Britain as an eternally Eurosceptic and isolationist country in today’s political debate, stressing instead the highly contingent and volatile nature of British attitudes towards European integration, as well as the country’s strong and proactive contribution to European cooperation in many non-EC/EU areas. In so doing, it concludes that ‘Brexit’ should best be seen as the expression of a historically-grounded lack of legitimacy of the European integration process in Britain, rather than as a rejection of European cooperation per se; a story that might also hold some lessons for the EU’s increasingly uncertain future in the twenty-first century.

Dr. Mathias Haeussler is currently Lumley Research Fellow at Magdalene College, University of Cambridge. He has published widely on the history of post-war European integration and the Cold War, including articles in Cold War History, The International History Review, and Twentieth Century British History. His doctoral dissertation was funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council, and he has previously held fellowships at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and the University of Bonn.

[TALK 2]


Your place or mine? Oral histories of migration for work in contemporary Britain, Prof. Ben Rogaly

In the UK's recent referendum on EU membership the choice given to the electorate was to 'remain' in or 'leave' the EU. But the anti-immigrant atmosphere stoked by parts of the leave campaign led some 'leave' voters to regard the vote for Brexit as an instruction to all those with foreign nationality (as well as those who 'looked foreign') to leave the country.

This may have explained the sharp post-referendum rise in attacks on members of established ethnic minorities and hostile comments directed at EU nationals. This summer's turn of events did not emerge from nowhere.

Paradoxically, as well as being an ethnically diverse society, Britain has a long history of fear of the 'other', not unconnected to its colonial history. In this lecture I will explore specific contestations over local and national space that this fear has given rise to, using oral histories recorded in the small city of Peterborough in England, a fast-changing place, that has experienced large scale migration over several decades. Building on the geographical concept of scale, and rooted in theories of place and space, I will argue that geographical insights can offer a fresh understanding of histories of migration and mobility. Such geographically-informed history, properly co-produced through oral history and made public through accessible community events, may in turn help to make connections between people who are divided across ethnic and national identities in a Britain that is currently headed for 'Brexit'.

Prof. Ben Rogaly

Ben Rogaly is Professor of Human Geography and former Head of the Department of Geography at the University of Sussex. He has researched the intricacies of employment relations involving migrant workers in rural India and the UK since the early 1990s. His most recent ethnographic and oral history work has focused on class, place, migration and belonging in the provincial cities of Norwich and Peterborough in England, and has led to a co-authored book with historian Becky Taylor Moving Histories of Class and Community: Identity, Place and Belonging in Contemporary England (Palgrave, 2011); an article with anthropologist Kaveri Qureshi on Diversity, urban space and the right to the provincial city; and a website emerging from his AHRC Fellowship Places for all? A multi-media investigation of citizenship, work and belonging in a fast-changing provincial city co-produced with artists and grassroots organisations. Ben's recent article in Society and Space questioned the framing of migration in contemporary debates.



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University of Luxembourg (Campus Belval)

Avenue de l'Universite

Esch-sur-Alzette

Luxembourg

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